Northern Ireland news

Buncrana pier victim's father calls for end to online abuse

Stephanie Knox was with her then boyfriend Davitt Walsh when he rescued baby Rí­oghnach
Seamus McKinney

THE elderly father of one of the Buncrana pier victims has appealed for an end to online criticism of a woman who helped rescue his baby granddaughter.

Noel McGrotty (86) was speaking as Stephanie Knox continued to face a backlash after it emerged she was suing his drowned son’s estate for injuries suffered on the night of the tragedy in March 2016.

Sean McGrotty (48) died along with his sons Mark (12) and Evan (8), their grandmother Ruth Daniels (58) and aunt Jodie-Lee Daniels (14) when his car slid into Lough Swilly from a pier.

Ms Knox (25) helped her then boyfriend Davitt Walsh when he swam to the sinking car to rescue the only survivor, Mr McGrotty’s then four-month-old daughter Ríoghnach.

It emerged earlier this week that Ms Knox has lodged a claim against his estate for compensation as well as against Donegal county council which owns Buncrana pier.

Mr McGrotty snr received legal documents outlining the claim shortly before the second anniversary of his son’s death.

The Irish News has learned that at least two other people have also lodged claims against the estate.

The news provoked a huge response on social media, most of which was critical of the Derry woman.

However, Mr McGrotty has called for those behind any online abuse to stop.

The Derry pensioner said his family now want to move on from what happened.

“I do not know the wee girl but the only thing I’m afraid of now is that the public opinion might be damaging here. My family doesn’t want that.”

He also suggested to independent.ie that Ms Knox had suffered “psychological shock”.

Meanwhile, Mr Walsh yesterday denied that he had criticised Ms Knox’s decision to seek compensation or gave an interview to any media outlet.

“I have the utmost respect for Stephanie Knox. Stephanie has suffered extreme trauma since the tragic events of the that horrible day in Buncrana,” he said.

The Co Donegal man added that he had moved on with his own life as best he could since the tragedy.

“Please respect my privacy,” he said.'

Davitt Walsh swam to Sean McGrotty's sinking SUV to rescue then four-month-old, Ríoghnach McGrotty. Photo by Niall Carson/PA Wire.

Buncrana pier victims Mark McGrotty (12) and Evan McGrotty (eight), Sean McGrotty (49), Ruth Daniels (57) and Jodie Lee Daniels (14) drowned when Mr McGrotty's car slid into Lough Swilly in March 2016.

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